So much of the news recently seems to have been about our new prime minister, the new government, the fall of the pound and general uncertainty; essentially we are in a period of significant change. All of this makes me more convinced of the value of the message and the service that the Church provides at every level of our nation’s life.
Based at Ripon Cathedral, where people have gathered to pray in good times and in bad for over 1,300 years, we have the advantage of a long-term perspective.
The message of Christian hope provides comfort when times are hard and the confidence to embrace new opportunities. Our current vision and mission strategy at Ripon Cathedral, called Growing God’s Kingdom, relates to the realities of life for the people and communities of our region.
When I recently launched the cathedral’s Annual Review, I spoke of the significant progress within the four main areas of our mission: growing the worshipping community; promoting our spiritual and built heritage; serving the diocesan bishop in mission and engaging with the issues and needs of the world.
Amongst other things, I reported on: our congregations growing younger; more people serving our mission within the cathedral and in the wider community; new pilgrimages within and outside the cathedral; the forthcoming conservation project in the quire – Restoring Fallen Angels; the creation of The Ripon Cathedral Rural Forum – to support better our rural communities; key services we have hosted for the Bishop of Leeds. We are increasingly involved in charitable partnerships through Ripon Cathedral Community Connections and organisations such as Ripon Together.
We also reflected on the increased numbers or visitors and worshippers – not least around the centenary of the armistice. Our strengthening financial health was something everyone was pleased to hear about.
Chapter is soon to create some new part-time posts in the areas of children’s and youth work – expanding our education offer within both term-time and holidays.
Our ambitious development project Ripon Cathedral Renewed seeks to provide the cathedral with those facilities for which people have been asking for many years – namely toilets and a refectory. The plans also include choir rehearsal space, a shop and an adult changing room.
Whilst being determined to do everything in our power to make this vision a reality there can be no guarantee at this juncture – that Ripon Cathedral Renewed can happen. All funds need to be raised and a design produced that will secure all the necessary permissions.
Things are looking encouraging! Generous pledges mean that we are well over half-way to our target of £6million.
The archeological investigations which will inform the design are due to begin at the end of August and we anticipate that the design architect will be appointed in September.
Over the next year, as plans emerge and those vital permissions are sought, the people who have been calling on the cathedral for years to provide these essential facilities will have the opportunity to pledge their own support.
My prayer is that this will prove to be an historic and transformational development for this wonderful ancient cathedral as it continues to serve the city and the region in the 21st Century. Please, do read our Annual Review 2018. It can be found at www.riponcathedral.org.uk or you can obtain a printed copy from the cathedral.